Daring Cooks 6th Challenge: Chicken Pho

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. A perfect recipe for Fall, this vietnamese staple was a welcome challenge. You can’t go wrong with soup at this time of the year. I had pho once before in a local restaurant and had made a mental note to return once the weather would turn to our typical northwestern rainy season. I’m glad to now have a straightforward recipe I can do at home. One  small change I would do, however, is a little less fish sauce. Aside from that, it was a great recipe.

We had an optional challenge this month involving dessert wontons. The filling was left to our imagination. I chose “flavours of summer”. We had tried deep fried oreos, jelly beans and mars bars at the last PNE. The jelly beans and Mars TM bar weren’t very good, but the Oreos TM had definite potential. We had also had a deep fried Snickers TM before and quite liked it. So, our fillings for this challenge was a frozen mini Snickers and crushed Oreos. Well, the deep fried wonton, I think, proved an even better cover than the traditional funnel cake batter. We’ll be testing other similar fillings (hum…Reeses’ peanut butter cup…) in the chilly months to come. Thanks for a great pair of challenges!

Chicken Pho

Preparation Time: 45 cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions

Servings: Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)

Accompaniments:

2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice

Directions:

  1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
  2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
  4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
  5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
  6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
  7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
  8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

Challenge #2: Chocolate Wontons

Equipment:

• Small bowl
• Pastry brush
• Plastic wrap and/or damp paper towels
• Wok or medium-sized pot
• Frying thermometer (if you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil temperature by dropping in a cube of bread … if it browns quickly, the oil is ready)

Preparation time: 15 minutes + 15 minutes cooking time (for 12 wontons)

Servings: Makes 12 wontons.

Ingredients:

1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
12 wonton wrappers, defrosted (keep wrappers covered with damp towel)
12 pieces or nuggets of chocolate (use any type of chocolate you like)
High-heat oil for frying (i.e., vegetable oil, corn oil)
Confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash.
  2. On a clean, dry surface lay 1 wonton wrapper down with a point toward you, like a diamond.
  3. Place 1 piece of chocolate near the top end of the wrapper.
  4. Brush a very thin layer of the egg wash on the edges of the wrapper.
  5. Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper up to create a triangle and gently press to remove all air from the middle. Press the edges to adhere the sides. Make sure the wrapper is sealed completely.
  6. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and chocolate pieces.
  7. Keep the folded chocolate wontons covered under plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying.
  8. In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2 inches (5 cm.) of high-heat oil.
  9. Heat the oil to 350º F (180º C) and gently slide a few of the chocolate wontons into the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd the chocolate wontons.
  10. Fry the wontons for 1 ½ minutes, then flip over and fry another minute until both sides are golden brown and crisp.

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